March 22, 2006 — An educational documentary entitled "Transfer Day Perspectives" has just been released on DVD to help bring V.I. history to the classrooms — just in time for Transfer Day.
The V.I. Humanities Council has distributed "Transfer Day Perspectives" DVDs and study guides to all public and private schools in the territory, libraries and the University of the Virgin Islands.
Transfer Day, March 31, celebrates the territory's change of hands from Denmark to the United States in 1917.
The documentary was produced by Eric Miles, who won several ADDY Awards for the project earlier this week from the Ad Club of the Virgin Islands. "Transfer Day Perspectives" won the Mosaic Award and the Gold ADDY award for public service television.
According to Miles, the film project has three parts: the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Danish to American hands, the territory's current status and its future. The film includes interviews Miles completed years ago with V.I. resident Blanche Sasso, who was 105 at the time of the interview and only16 when the territory changed hands in 1917. He also interviewed 102-year-old Ursula Krigger.
"They talked about stumbling blocks," Miles said, referring to the transfer and how it affected the lives of everyday citizens.
The project also includes interviews with current political figures, like Delegate Donna Christensen.
Miles said he had not seen the supplementary materials.
"The supplementary material is a valuable teaching tool and will enrich the minds of our young people," Mabel J. Maduro, Humanities Council executive director, said in a press release.
"Transfer Day Perspectives" is part of the Humanities Council's We the People project, entitled "U.S. Virgin Islanders: A People's Quest for Self-Governance."
Though some of Miles' interviews for "Transfer Day Perspectives" were completed years ago, he spent three months last year in intensive footage gathering and editing.
Miles is a fourth-generation St. Thomian with a strong and long-standing interest in both history and film. His father, Raymond, founded Studio Five, where Eric apprenticed growing up. Miles' mother is Danish.
"I was interested in what things were like in the old days," Miles said. He said he has collected rare books on V.I. and Caribbean history for most of his life.
Not all of Miles' work was been on St. Thomas. He moved to Miami after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, where he worked on big budget movies, including "There's Something About Mary" and "Analyze That." He also worked on documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic.
In 1999 he returned to St. Thomas. "I just wanted to come home," he said. "The islands were just more appealing."
Since 1999, he has worked on documentary films and commercials all over the Caribbean.
Miles and his wife, Tara, both graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands. They work together with Miles' father at Studio Five.
The Transfer Day project has already aired on PBS and TV2. The documentary is approximately 30 minutes long. The DVD and study guide is for sale at the V.I. Humanities Council office on St. Thomas and the V.I. Council on the Arts office on St. Croix.
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